Billeder på siden
[ocr errors]

since they lead to the neglect of some of his primary duties, and affect the usefulness of his ministry in the most serious manner.

I feel that I am wandering from the point with which I set out; but these discussions arising out of the view we are taking of the missionary character, although not necessary to the simple exhi. bition of the qualifications with which that character ought to be invested, may furnish matter of useful reflection, and show what the missionary ought not to be, as well as what he ought.

Before proceeding to examine him as to talent, temper, &c.; our young christian's desire for the missionary work may here be noticed. We have been taking a view of his piety, the holiness of his deportment, and the spirituality of his mind; connected with these features, there should be a decided predilection for the missionary work. I reckon this an essential qualification. But this predilection must not be a sudden flash of feeling, not like the prophet's gourd which came up in a night, and may perish in a night. I should not augur favourably of the determined resolution and unwearying perseverance of the man, who all at once formed, and as suddenly executed, the purpose of becoming a missionary. It seems to me more congruous to suppose, that an undertaking of so momentous a nature, and involving consequences so incalculably serious, both to the individual himmay be in any manner connected with him, has been the subject of long, and anxious, and prayerful consideration : that it has been revolved again and again; that it has stirred up a “multitude of thoughts” in the breast of the young Christian, uncertain as to his call, diffident of his qualifications, fearful of mistaking inclination for a sense of duty, mortified by the consciousness of inadequate impression; and yet habitually contemplating the work with deep solemnity of spirit, at last opening his mind to christian friends; meeting both with discouragement and support, but still growing in his desire* for the office of an evangelist; decidedly preferring it before all others, feeling more powerfully the impulse of holy motives, more steadily resisting the suggestions of the flesh, and all temptations that would either allure him to a life of more honour, or less self-denial :—but his purpose still acquiring more stability amidst the agitation of conflicting views and interests; till the voice of Providence evidently concurs with the written commandment, urging him to go forth to the help of the Lord. Thus far all is as it should be; and if the inquiry as to talent, &c. be equally satisfactory, it will be the duty of friends and connections to join in bidding him God speed, and help him forward in the name of the Lord.

self, and all who

* “ If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work," i Tim. iii. 1. The word desire occurs twice here; but it is not the same word in the Greek in both cases. The first is the word opɛyeral, which signifies to stretch out the hand towards a thing, hence, metaphorically to desire earnestly, to express eagerness to obtain. It is the same word used 1 Tim. vi. 10. “ The love of money is the root of all evil, which, while some coveted after,&c. Like the miser's passion for money, should the man of God desire-covet not the wages, but the work of the ministry. The other word etiOvuel, has a similar meaning. See Luke xxii. 15. Aets xx. 33. Rom. vii. 7. and xiii. 9. where it is translated covet. In other it is used to express the desire of food which a hungry man feels, as in Luke xv. 16, xvi. 21, &c.

I must break off for the present, hoping to be able soon to resume the subject.

I am, &c.




[ocr errors]

My dear Friend, An opinion has been very generally taken up, that missionaries to the heathen need not to be more than men of very ordinary talents : that a man of warm piety, though not distinguished above the common run of every day characters, either by depth or acuteness of understanding, but a man of plain sense and moderate intelligence, is fully competent to fill the station of a christian missionary, except, perhaps at a few places among Pagans or Mahomedans of a more refined and intellectual cast. There, it is admitted men of greater ability are requisite. This contracted and most false and hurtful notion of the subject is less prevalent now, I believe, than it was fifteen or twenty years ago ; but it is still retained by many. Even to this day, in certain circles, it is not uncommon to hear such a remark as this : “ Such an one has not talent enough for the ministry at home, but he may do for a missionary;" or, “ What a pity that a young

[ocr errors]

man of fine abilities like Mr. Such-a-one, should not stay at home, but throw himself away by becoming a missionary !

This subject ought to have a candid consideration. If the opinion or impression on the public mind, respecting the sort of men that should become missionaries, be erroneous, it must be highly injurious, not merely to the individuals who have entered the missionary field, and those who may yet follow them, but to the cause at large. It tends to lower the character of all the operations connected with the evangelization of the worldmakes it almost disreputable to have any immediate connection with the agents employed in conducting these operations, and by a natural consequence diminishes the interest that is taken in all that is done, and all that may yet be accomplished by such instruments. I trust I may “ magnify my office," (not supposing it comparable however with that of him whose words I quote,)--I say, I trust I may “magnify my office" without the imputation of pride or vain glory. But if in regard to the sacrifices it requires—the duties it involves the responsibility that attaches to it—the object it aims at—the effects it may produce—the missionary service is not inferior to the ministerial, why should it be more lightly esteemed ?

I admit that, in some missionary settlements, there are inferior departments which may be filled most usefully by persons of mediocrity, both as to

« ForrigeFortsæt »